Indiana pulled away for a 64-56 win over Notre Dame in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon after some back-and-forth moments.
The Hoosiers finished with the best record in the 11-year history of the Crossroads Classic at 8-3, wining its last five games in the event. Butler won six and Notre Dame and Purdue each won four games.
Let’s take a look back at the details of what went right and wrong with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (9-2, 1-1) will host Northern Kentucky on Wednesday evening at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Indiana opened the game 3-of-11 from the field, had eight turnovers in the first 15 minutes, and they fell behind by as much as nine points before the break.
Of particular note, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson combined for just three field goal attempts in the first 12 minutes of the game, and IU head coach Mike Woodson had seen enough.
“Whenever that happens, he (Woodson) has a big emphasis right from the start. He starts yelling and starts getting in people’s faces talking about playing inside-out. I think that was a big thing, big key,” Jackson-Davis said.
The pair went on to combined for 28 points as they asserted their dominance in the paint. But they weren’t they only thing Notre Dame had to content with. Indiana make 8-of-20 3-pointers (40 percent). Coupled with Jackson-Davis and Thompson, when they are making shots from three Indiana has the potential to have a pretty effective offense.
Double the post or stick to shooters? Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey called it “the dilemma really the whole night.” And as Brey waffled between the two approaches, IU’s post players read the situation.
“It’s hard for other teams to dig on me and Trayce because if they do, me and Trayce are completely comfortable and unselfish enough to throw the ball out and have confidence in our teammates to shoot the ball,” forward Race Thompson said.
Still, the Hoosiers shot just 43.8 percent and turned it over 14 times. This was just a two point game with six minutes left, and it was largely due to an inconsistent offense.
“I thought offensively we moved the ball in spurts, and when we did, good things happened for us. I got to get them to understand that,” Woodson said.
The Hoosiers scored just .94 points per possession, their third worst output of the season. Not helpful was just six offensive rebounds on the day.
Notre Dame started the game with the floor spaced, often in four and five-out looks. The results weren’t good for IU, as the Hoosiers’ starting lineup struggled to stay in front of dribble drives to the rim. The Irish opened the game at nearly 50 percent from the field (11-of-24) in the first half as they ran out to an early lead.
That early success included three of Notre Dame’s four 3-point makes on the day.
“There were two threes that were made by their team early on that we didn’t execute our defense, and one of the time-outs I was very critical because, again, we’ve gone — we’ve had two days to prepare, and you can’t walk out on the floor and just forget your coverages,” Woodson said.
Indiana adjusted and went to heavy minutes with two of its better perimeter defenders on the floor together, Rob Phinisee and Xavier Johnson.
“Both of them are pretty good defenders. They defend when they want to defend, and Rob is a hell of a defender. So, I mean, I was looking for defense,” Woodson said of his decision to have both point guards playing together.
The Irish made just 10-of-34 shots (29 percent) the rest of the way including 1-of-12 from three.
“I thought the second half our defense was even more steady in terms of how we wanted to cover our coverages,” Woodson said.
Indiana stayed in front of the ball for the most part, and even when the ball got to the rim, Indiana’s big men were there to help out.
“The defensive presence as far as blocking shots, he is a great talent,” Brey said of Jackson-Davis, who had two blocks and impacted several more. IU had five blocks and five steals on the day, and just generally made everything uncomfortable for a respectable offense.
IU allowed just .82 points per possession against a Notre Dame offense that came into the game ranked in the top-30 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Hoosiers forced a 20.5 percent turnover percentage, their best since game three against St. John’s and well above Notre Dame’s season average.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson, Thompson and Jackson-Davis post-game
- Phinisee, defense and better ball security helps IU survive another roller coaster
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A-) Jackson-Davis was physically dominant in this one, and he took over on the boards in the second half. If there was a downside he needs to finish better in the paint. Despite the offense running through him and facing a constantly changing defensive scheme, he had no turnovers in the second half.
Race Thompson (A-) Thompson was clearly valuable in this one as Indiana lost its second half lead and then regained it when he was out and then back in. He has been perfect from the field over the last two games, making 10-of-10 shots over that span. Thompson added three assists and two steals.
Miller Kopp (B-) Not a highly productive game for Kopp. He continues to be largely ineffective when run off the arc and forced to attack with the dribble.
Parker Stewart (B) Stewart has been a bit of a one-trick pony, but he has been elite at his best contribution — making 3-pointers. He delivered three 3s on four attempts and is a Big Ten best 49.1 percent from long range. Stewart struggled at times to stay in front of his man, however, and he had four turnovers.
Xavier Johnson (C+) Notre Dame clearly designed their gameplan around forcing Johnson to beat them, sagging off him and going under screens, and he was erratic with four turnovers and just a 3-of-11 day from the field. He was solid on the defensive end after some early ball screen coverage lapses.
Jordan Geronimo (A-) It was surprising to not see more of Geronimo, who had four rebounds in four minutes.
Michael Durr (D) It wasn’t much of a sample size, but Durr was a bad fit in this game and struggled to make an impact.
Rob Phinisee (A-) Although he was an inefficient 0-of-5 from two, Phinisee had five assists against two turnovers and made 2-of-3 from long range including a late game shot that propelled IU to the win. Phinisee was brought in for his defense to slow Notre Dame dribble drives, and he delivered.
Anthony Leal (B) Leal facilitated, played good defense, and brought energy. With IU thin at his spot, the sophomore delivered.
Trey Galloway was out with a wrist injury. Tamar Bates was out attending a family funeral.
Love seeing my brothers pick me up like that. Great TEAM win. #LLKT💙 @IndianaMBB
— Tamar Bates (@tbates_11) December 18, 2021
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